Does Dark Clothing Make You a Mosquito Magnet?

Every summer, our family spends a few weekends at a rustic getaway in the woods. Our scenic vacation spot is near a meandering creek surrounded by quaking aspens and tall evergreens. But this idyllic location has one major drawback—swarms of mosquitoes.

Last year, a few friends came along on our retreat, including one woman who wears black almost exclusively. Over the course of the weekend, I noticed she had large clouds of mosquitoes around her and she somehow managed to acquire many more bites than the rest of us. I had heard that the pests were attracted to dark colors, so I joked that she was attacked because mosquitoes love goths.

mosquitoes on black clothing
Nine out of ten mosquitoes agree—goths are extra tasty

But later I wondered, was there any truth to my jest?

Some people seem to doubt that mosquitoes prefer certain colors and claim it’s a myth. However, many articles assert that dark colors are indeed one of the things that attract the pesky bugs. They explain that mosquitoes use their vision to find targets, and because many of their targets are typically located in shady areas, the insects will seek out people in dark clothing. Mosquitoes also use heat to find their meals, and since darker colors absorb more light, those colors produce more heat as well.

Several government agencies throughout the world accept and support these ideas. Some areas that are concerned about the spread of malaria—such as Hong Kong and Taiwan—have issued statements recommending that travelers wear light-colored clothing. And New Zealand was concerned that black Olympic uniforms would put their athletes at risk for the Zika virus.

Fortunately, Zika and malaria aren’t big concerns at our forest retreat. But mosquito bites can still be a nuisance, so next time I’m packing brights and pastels.


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